This post is based on two events from yesterday, but before I get to them I should provide a little history…
The last time I was in school was a little over twenty years ago, and one Sunday afternoon when I was studying I had a woman who was a representative of a local religious organization stop by my door. She wanted to discuss her faith, and perhaps because I wanted to take a break from studying or perhaps because it was a sunny Sunday afternoon, I said, “Okay.” So we stood and talked for about an hour and a half. However, for everything that she offered from her system of beliefs, I countered with a different viewpoint from another Way. She’d suggest something from the book she had with her, and I’d offer something to the effect of, “Yes, but the Buddhists believe…” or “the Bible says…” or “in Taoist philosophy it is said…” or “in Native Spirituality they believe…” or, well, you get the idea. We went back and forth like this as I said for about an hour and a half until finally I said, “I’ll be the first one to admit that I don’t have all the answers; I’m still a student.” Her response to this was, “Well, I’ve found mine.” but I countered that with, “No, you think you have; you’ve stopped looking.” At that point she left.
I had an almost identical repeat of this experience about a decade later with a man from the same religious organization – different town, different circumstances, but same general pattern. The next time he came to see me he brought three more people with him – perhaps for backup. I don’t know for sure.
Anyway, a lot has happened for me in those twenty years as I’ve continued my own journey into Being. In some ways I’ve expanded on the depth and breadth of knowledge that I had, and in some ways I’ve become more conscious of pruning away beliefs and understandings that aren’t appropriate for me in this moment. Yesterday morning I had this thought:
In Richard Bach’s book, “Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” there is a book within the book, and on the last page of this little book of wisdoms it says, “Everything in this book may be wrong.” It got me wondering… What if we tacked that sentence onto the last page of the Bible…? or the Koran…? or a physics textbook…? It takes a lot of courage to admit that what you believe may be wrong, that there may be another answer. What would the world be like? How would things change?
Then yesterday afternoon two gentlemen from the same religious organization came to the door. Yes, they were looking for converts and trying to ‘sell’ their ideas, but I’m sure they don’t see it that way. It got me wondering what they really wanted, what was underneath, and I thought that what they really want is recognition and acceptance of their beliefs. It’s what we all want, deep down. And I don’t have to believe in what they believe in order to accept that they do. One thing I’ve always demanded for myself is the right to follow my own path, and I can’t do that without granting the same permission to others. It’s impossible to look someone in the eye without them knowing who you are. So I took the papers they offered me and recycled them, returned the smiles they offered and let them go on their way.